Kidnapped Pak Sikhs found

PESHAWAR: Two Sikhs kidnapped for ransom in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border were today recovered alive and are under the protection of Pakistani soldiers, the military said.

In a statement it said that security forces had recovered the two between the Orakzai and Khyber districts in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt, after they were abducted by “terrorists” in Khyber. The tribal belt has been branded an Al-Qaeda headquarters by Washington. The army said “some miscreants” were killed in today’s encounter, but released no further details of the circumstances in which the Sikhs were freed.

The two Sikhs were part of a trio snatched by gunmen in hopes of receiving a ransom in the town of Bara in late January, officials said. The third Sikh, Jaspal Singh, was beheaded after relatives failed to pay a ransom. His body was found dumped in Orakzai last month.

Pakistan’s Sikh and Hindu communities are

tiny. In the last year, hundreds have fled their homes after receiving death threats from the Taliban and other militant groups in the increasingly unstable northwest. Most Sikhs and Hindus living in Khyber pay annual protection to the local militant group Lashkar-e-Islam, a Sikh community member has said, blaming the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for the beheading.

Key Taliban man killed

PESHAWAR: A Taliban commander has been killed in a clash with security forces in Pakistan’s Swat valley, where the military claims to have quelled an Islamist uprising, officials said on Monday. Mohammad Alam Binouri, who had a $117,000 reward on his head, was

killed in the battle in Madyan town in the mountainous northwestern region on Sunday, police officer Islam Jan said. Binouri was killed with fellow-commander Shankoo Mullah, while three other wounded militants were captured alive.